The Brooklyn, New York native went all the way to the Midwest to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a 4-star recruit. Samuel left as the New York Gatorade Player of the year and entered Columbus large expectations.
Entering the NFL without a clear role at the next level with projections at both running back and wide receiver, Samuel served as Ohio State’s H-back this past season where he finished as the team’s leading receiver with 74 catches for 865 yards and 7 TDs. He embraced the versatile role and was also 3rd on the team in rushing with 771 yards, averaging nearly 8 yards per rush and added another 8 TDs on the ground. He finished his career with an exclamation point as he scored the game-winning touchdown against Michigan in double overtime and was named 1st Team All-Big Ten. A Swiss Army knife, if you will.
Moving on to the NFL, Samuel has scouts and teams confused on how to utilize him at the next level. Then again, that brings beauty in it’s own right. Samuel fits the mold as a gadget player who can serve as a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenders. The only question is whether or not his skillset is transferable to the NFL.
Name: Curtis Samuel
Size: 5’11”/196/31 1/4” Arm Length
School: Ohio State
Comparison: Tyler Ervin (Houston Texans)
Draft Grade: 4th Round
Combine Results: 40-Yard Dash: 4.31 – Bench Press: 18 Reps – Vertical Jump: 37” – Broad Jump: 119” – 3-Cone Drill: 7.09 – 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.33
Positives: Provides an extra dynamic to the offense with his ability as a receiver and out of the backfield. Elusive in space with quick cuts and footwork. Lethal speed and quick accelerator. Has the ability to go the distance if he breaks through the 2nd level. Gets to top gear on a dime. Eliminates defender’s closing angles. Absorbs hits well and displays fluid body control. Typically lunges forward to maximize available yards. His 4.31 40-yard dash was 2nd among all offensive skill players at the Combine. No major injuries on record and stayed healthy during his tenure at Ohio State. Productive junior campaign.
Negatives: Hands appear to be doused in butter – often times will deflect into interception territory. Struggles to go up and get passes that are mildly overthrown. Not a natural hands catcher by any means. Stops movement when tracking the ball over his shoulder. Bland route runner. Runs routes without authority – demands polish in that aspect of his game, especially if he’ll be made a full-time receiver. Takes too many steps back after the catch on comeback routes. Loses the physical battles. Lacks explosion out of his breaks. Fails to gain separation in his routes. Locks vision upfield too long on screens – disallows the QB to get rid of the ball at the right timing. Too adventurous and will run back a chunk of yardage if nothing is initially open off the handoff. Lacks necessary field vision to create for himself. Hesitant off the exchange. Runs too horizontal out of the backfield. Typically stumbles out of his cuts. Often wrapped up when met in the backfield.
Outlook: Samuel’s role at the next level will be best served as an exclusive gadget player. He’s a guy offenses can bring in to serve more as a “decoy” and eliminate a single member of the defense. However, I’m not sure he brings anything more than that. He does have athletic ability, as his 4.31 40-time proves, but he simply did not test well in the agility drills and it shows up on tape. His overall skillset isn’t strong enough to pose specifically as a running back or receiver as he displays huge weaknesses at each. Overall, Samuel’s main role at the next level will be a guy who poses a mismatch when on the field, and can make an impact out of the backfield and in the passing game, but will never be consistent enough to draw a consistent role. I value him as an early Day 3 guy, but the hype will likely draw him into the 2nd-3rd round.